Copyright Law

By Drake Witt

Disney's The Lion King has been known to be one of the less controversial Disney movies created. However, it is not free from controversy. And no, I'm not talking about the infamous supposed cloud that spelled "sex." The Lion King perhaps pulled from other influences. What happens when Disney denies these influences? Is Disney's story justified, or is Disney guilty of plagarism?

Throughout high school, and starting college, teachers often warn the dangers of plagiarising. Plagiarism can get make you fail an assignment, fail a course, or even get kicked out of school. The moral message you were taught growing up is very clear: plagiarism has dire consequences. In an essay, detecting plagiarism is pretty straightforward. Teachers have a plethora of tools to scan essays against known databases and other visual indicators like mismatched fonts raise red flags. The line is clear in academia: if you steel, bad things will happen. But what about outside academia, what about outside of papers? Could it be possible that a large film studio can plagiarise as well? And not only plagiarise but plagiarise and get away with it?

The Walt Disney Corporation’s films are known to adapt off of previous works. Classic movies from the Disney Renaissance were very adaptaive off of old fairy tales. Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” was based on “La Belle et la Bête” and Disney’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” was based on Victor Hugo’s novel of the same name. These movies and their original works they adapted from are separated by over a hundred years and the movies do not hide their influence. Disney celebrates reimagining Victor Hugo’s work. However, the same cannot be said for “The Lion King”. There is a difference between making your own version of an idea, and just stealing components from others without attributes, and claiming it as your own. Watch the below video essay on “The Lion King” and its controversy with plagiarism.

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